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Discrimination in Romanian Schools? Many Hungarian Students Fail Graduation Exams

Péter Cseresnyés 2019.07.09.

Nearly one-third of graduating high school students in Romania have failed their high school graduation exams. Furthermore, in those counties with a predominant Hungarian population, the results are far worse than the national average. Some of the worst results are among the Székely (Szekler) counties. This is mainly due to the current regulation which requires every student, including those studying in a minority language in school, to take Romanian language and literature exams.

Preliminary results show that only 67% of students were able to reach a score higher than 6 (out of 10) which is necessary for a successful Baccalaureate exam in Romania. This is the worst result for the exam in the past 5 years, Hungarian news agency MTI reports. The Székely counties are at the bottom of the ranking.

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In Hargita County, 50.3% of applicants passed the exam,  with only two other Romanian counties performing worse. In five of the schools in the county, all would-be graduates failed.

In Romania, young Székely people studying in Hungarian schools have the same requirements for Romanian language and literature just like their Romanian counterparts. This primarily affects those students who live in areas with a Hungarian-majority and learn the Romanian language only at school, basically as a second language.

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The Székely Observer Foundation and the Transylvanian Hungarian Youth Association have previously encouraged graduates who failed their Romanian language exam to file a complaint to the European Court of Justice over the discriminatory graduation process. Many graduates have taken the opportunity, and the Court has already accepted some of these cases.

In June, the Transylvanian Hungarian Civic Party (MPP) went so far as to submit a draft law to the Romanian Parliament, which would abolish the Romanian language and literature exams for those studying in minority languages. Neither the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) nor the Hungarian Teachers’ Association of Romania (RMPSZ) support this proposal.

Featured photo illustration by Attila Balázs/MTI